HAWL IN: Closing time for the Cubs’ “Party of the Century”

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MESA, Ariz – The sobering light is busting through the curtains, growing stronger by the minute.

Your eyelids start to part ways slowly letting in the reality of what is around you, even if it’s not desired at the moment. If really sentimental, the song “Closing Time” might even be echoing in your head as sleep slowly turns to consciousness.

Cubs fans, it’s the proverbial “Morning After.” February 14, 2017 – the moment the “Party of the Century” figuratively comes to an end with the reporting of pitchers and catchers to Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona.

The first drinks were poured at 11:47 PM on November 2nd, the moment of the final out of the Cubs’ Game 7 victory over the Indians. It clinched their first World Series championship since 1908 and forever banished the label of “Lovable Losers” which the franchise hoped to shed.

But now the champagne has run dry. The bottles of your favorite adult beverage are all empty and perhaps figuratively scattered on the floor. Put those Cubs T-Shirts and sweaters purchased in the days after the title in the wash.

Tuesday the party ends. Like every other year, the work begins.

Pitchers and catchers reported to Sloan Park along with a few other position players, starting the franchise's first title defense in 108 years. Some of the faces from last year are gone, like Dexter Fowler and Aroldis Chapman, but a number of them are still the same.

Like every year there's the issue of figuring out the lineups. Where will players bat, who'll round out the starting rotation, who will take Fowler's place in center field are all issues that Joe Maddon has to sort through over the next few weeks.

Oh, and Joe still has to pick a slogan for this year. "Authentic" and "Uncomfortable" were words he mentioned in his news conference on Tuesday.

These things are all normal, but yet it's not. The Cubs are the DEFENDING WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS! Say it again, Cubs....World....Series....Champions.

Those words beg the question of how fans move on in this reality where they are now the "Lovable Winners" and a World Series favorite yet again. It's a hangover of joy yet the new pressure of maintaining the seemingly unattainable success that was reached just a little over three months ago.

So how do fans go about it now that the party from the first championship is over? Good question.

No one who is a Cubs fan really knows. One could quiz a Red Sox fan after they snapped an 86-year drought after the 2004 season or a White Sox fan when the snapped an 88-year skid the next season.

It's an exciting mystery that rooters of the team wake up to as the 2017 season dawns. There will be a few days to look back on the 2016 championship - like the ring ceremony on April 12th at Wrigley Field - but for the most part the time has come to move on.

After all, it's been 109 years since the fans have been able to celebrate a repeat title. That's motivation enough to overcome the hangover from the "Party of the Century."